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Not Everyone With COVID-19 Wants To Talk To Contact Tracers

L.A. County has had mixed results with contact tracing. Only 65% of positive people are willing to provide information about their close contacts. (Courtesy L.A. County Department of Public Health)
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Some people are embarrassed. Others fear for their jobs. Some just don’t trust the government.

That’s according to L.A. County health officials, who said today that just 65% of people who have COVID-19 are willing to be interviewed by county healthcare workers for the purpose of contact tracing.

Barbara Ferrer, the director of the county’s public health department, said that while contact tracing has worked well in other countries, here in Los Angeles the high case numbers make it hard to keep up. She said at today's news conference:

"South Korea never saw more than 1,000 positive cases in one day. We routinely see two to three times that volume, every single day and have for the last month."

Ferrer also noted a key difference between the U.S. and other countries: we don't guarantee income for people who need to isolate or quarantine. In countries that have that guarantee, that makes it much more likely that sick people will stay home -- and that people will be willing to talk to contact tracers.
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To boost participation, the county began offering a $20 gift card this week to people who complete the contact tracing survey.

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